Confession of a Game Play Addict

Timlynn Babitsky's picture

Ok, I admit it! I’m a virtual farm game junkie. In less than a year I’ve polished my planting/sowing/selling skills to become a Fearless Plower (level 52) at SlashKey's Farm Town and an ever-busy Soil Sage (level 83) at Zynga's Farmville.

Timlynn's Soil Sage farm at Farmville

I stay up late and get up early making sure that my crops haven’t withered or that I’ve not let my friends down in our joint venture co-ops. I absolutely love to play, but I also study the underlying models on which these two game systems flourish.

In the mid-80s Jim and I met in the math social science graduate program at UC Irvine. We were both immersed in the study of what today would be called social network theory – what is a group, how does it form, expand, thrive, shrink, and die. In those days focus was on static “snapshots” of one point in time and what that moment told us about group structure measurements.


It was social network structure data that FORTRAN programs on PDP-11 or Sigma 7 mainframes would crank through so you could then come up with group structure insights. But, for both Jim and me, it was really just a fleeting moment captured. We were closet students of process modeling of social networks evolving over time.

The exciting thing about social networks is that they are living – constantly changing – even as you capture one moment and study it, that network has already changed. Capturing that Big Dynamic Network and understanding what accelerates or hinders its dynamic social processes - THAT was the exciting aspect of social networks that we believed was REALLY “cool” (ok I’m dating myself with that one).

Which brings me back to Farm Town and Farmville and the evolution of games in general into virtual gaming today – to be covered by my foray into a Games People Play series of blog posts coming up here over the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned…it’s going to be fun!